It is becoming increasingly apparent that sports and domestic violence are overlapping at alarmingly frequent intervals. It seems like every couple weeks another athlete is accused of abusing their partner. These incidents not only harm the victims that receive the abuse, but further the dangerous cycle of domestic violence. Despite widespread public backlash against athletes like Ray Rice, some remain beloved figures despite accusations of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is an issue that transcends racial, financial, and gender barriers. Children who view incidents of domestic violence grow up more likely to repeat the behavior on their future partners. These incidents are serious crimes in which the victims are often the people that care about these athletes most, their families. In order to quell public backlash, the NFL has recently instituted a policy that suspends players for six games for a first domestic violence incident and give a lifetime ban for a second. Despite these recent changes, some are still calling for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to step down because of his handling of domestic violence issues.
Despite having a platform to take a stand against the vicious cycle of domestic violence, some professional leagues continue to celebrate the accomplishments of these athletes. While accused athletes should still be allowed to ply their trades, some remain visible in advertising campaigns and portrayed in a positive light by media figures. This disconnect comes at a time when women are watching and participating in sports more than ever, giving companies a growing incentive to correct these problems. Here are some athletes responsible for continuing this disgusting cycle.
10 Ray Rice – Football
Ray Rice is currently the NFL’s public enemy number one after footage emerged of him punching his now wife in an Atlantic City casino elevator. The incident, which has been replayed thousands of times on various media outlets, shows Rice striking his wife twice. After his unconscious wife hits her head on a railing and lies on the ground, Rice appears far from remorseful. The footage of this incident conflicts with some reports of the incident that Rice had acted in self-defense. Once footage of this incident was release, Rice was immediately suspended indefinitely by the NFL and his contract with the Baltimore Ravens was terminated. Whether he will set foot on a football field again remains to be seen.
9 Thiago Silva – MMA
Thiago Silva attracted headlines last week when UFC president Dana White announced that he would be returning to the UFC roster. Initially, White had said that Silva would never fight in the UFC again. Silva was involved in three separate incidents of domestic violence towards his wife, Thaysa Silva. On January 30, 2014, Thaysa filed for a restraining order against her husband who allegedly stuck a gun in her mouth and threatened to kill her. A second incident occurred when Thiago sent threatening text messages. A third incident involved him showing up at a gym where Thaysa was training and threatening to shoot everybody inside if she didn’t send out the man she was dating. He was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, but charges were dropped when Thaysa fled the country and returned to Brazil.
8 Greg Hardy – Football
On July 16, 2014, Greg Hardy was found guilty of assaulting his then girlfriend and threatening to kill her. Judge Becky Thorne handed hardy a 60-day suspended sentence and 18 months of probation. The incident occurred on May 12, 2014 after a long night of drinking when the Pro Bowl defensive end allegedly threw Nicole Holder from their bed, snatched a necklace from her, dragged her by the hair, and threw her onto a futon covered in rifles. Hardy also snatched a necklace from Holder’s neck and put it in the toilet, when the victim went to retrieve it, he slammed her arm with the lid. He also threatened to kill her. The trial lasted ten hours before the judge could reach her verdict, something unusual in domestic violence cases.
7 Jonathan “War Machine” Koppenhaver – MMA
War Machine is another athlete who has earned nearly universal rejection from the public after a gruesome beating of his ex-girlfriend Christy Mack. Mack, a star of adult films, and Jonathan Koppenhaver had dated on and off for several years before he showed up at her house unannounced earlier this year. Mack and her male companion then endured a vicious beating from the professional fighter, which left Mack with several teeth missing, 18 broken bones, and a ruptured liver. After a short manhunt for the fighter, he was arrested and extradited to Nevada, where he will face charges of assault with a deadly weapon, battery, and coercion of force.
6 Floyd Mayweather Jr. – Boxing
Floyd Mayewather Jr. is a serial abuser of women. In 2002, he was charged with two counts of domestic violence and misdemeanor battery for which he received a suspended sentence, 48 hours of community service, a $3,000 fine, and ordered to undergo counseling for incidents involving two women. In 2010, Floyd found himself in trouble again, this time after girlfriend Josie Harris filed a domestic battery report. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail for misdemeanor battery on his ex-girlfriend Harris, he also plead no contest to two misdemeanor harassment charges for threatening his children. He served his sentence and completed a domestic-violence counseling program and is still involved in multi-million dollar pay-per-view bouts.
5 Hope Solo – Soccer
Hope Solo’s first brush with domestic violence occurred the night before her wedding to husband Jerramy Stevens. The incident allegedly occurred after the couple argued about whether they would live in Washington or Florida. The judge eventually dismissed the charges against Stevens because of lack of evidence. Solo’s most recent incident of domestic violence occurred when she was charged with two misdemeanor counts of domestic violence assault against her sister and nephew. The incident allegedly occurred after Solo missed a team flight and was under the influence of alcohol.
4 Chad Johnson – Football
Chad Johnson may not be involved in the NFL anymore, but he still has an active following on social media because of his successful reality television career. One appearance he would probably like to forget comes from his Hardknocks stint with the Miami Dolphins. After marrying fellow reality star Evelyn Lozada on July 4th, 2012, Johnson was arrested less than two months later for allegedly headbutting Lozada during an argument. He was immediately released by the Dolphins and the couple soon divorced. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to a year of probation. Johnson violated his probation by failing to enroll and complete a batterer’s intervention program. During the parole violation hearing, Johnson slapped his male attorney’s buttocks, which to Judge Kathleen McHugh, demonstrated that he had not taken the punishment seriously.
3 Greg Oden – Basketball
Greg Oden may appear to be old, wise, and slow to anger, but on August 11th, 2014, he was arrested for punching his ex-girlfriend in the face during a fight. The incident occurred at Oden’s mother’s house in Lawrence, Indiana. Police entered the house to find the victim lying on the bed covering her face while crying. Further investigation revealed lacerations and swelling of the victim’s face. Oden was charged with felony battery resulting in serious bodily harm, misdemeanor domestic battery, and misdemeanor battery resulting in serious bodily harm. The 7’0’’ former first overall pick was a member of the Miami Heat last season.
2 Michael Strahan – Football
Despite being accused of domestic violence on several occasions, Michael Strahan remains a valued host of Live with Kelly and Michael. During his very public divorce from ex-wife Jean Muggli in 2005, Muggli filed for a temporary restraining order, just days before Strahan filed for divorce from her, which led the judge to dismiss the charges. She accused Strahan of abusing her physically on several occasions, including an incident in Germany, where she was punched in the face and knocked to the ground, resulting in several loose teeth. A judge eventually awarded Muggli $15 million in a divorce settlement.
1 Jason Kidd – Basketball
Jason Kidd’s relationship with ex-wife Joumana was full of abusive behavior. The point guard used to blow kisses to his wife before free throws, but in 2001 was found guilty of a domestic abuse charge for punching her during an argument. The couple reconciled and Jason underwent counseling, but the relationship was on the rocks again in 2007. Kidd filed for divorce in January 2007, but Joumana counter-filed the next month alleging he had broken her rib and smashed her head into a car console. Kidd was also accused of kicking his wife in the stomach while she was pregnant. Kidd is currently the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.